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CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

HAPPINESS designed for man-Afflictions not incom

patible with the object, but necessary to a state of probation—Virtue tried by solicitations to unlawful pleasure—What pleasures are unlawful ?--The world divided on the question—The professors of religion distinguished by the avoidance of popular amusements-Reasons of the peculiarity have not been clearly stated-False objections exposed— The evils arising from ignorance on the subject, especially to young persons of the present age- Advantages of correct knowledge on the subject-Plan of the work.

1.

CHAPTER II.

THE THEATRE.

DIFFICULTY of selecting common ground for the

discussion—That of general utility or injury chosen --Benefits of the Amusement-Intellectual qualification and instruction–The circumstances which qualify these benefits to a mind of taste and imagination—The intellectual pleasures not inconsiderable-Good acting is like a good painting-An actor is a commentator-Critical study of the art of pleasing-The claim of the Theatre to the appellation, “ the school of morals" considered—Its representations are not purely virtuous--Its real object is to please--Prevailing taste of a theatrical assembly not virtuous—The stage, therefore, cannot be strictly moral-Expediency of a national theatre suggested

- Modern 'improvement of the drama owing to a modification of public taste-In its relation to popular manners and morals the theatre is unchangeable -Present taste for the best specimens of tragedy accounted for the moral evils of the stage considered–The reformation it has effected compared with opposite results—Evils accruing to the perfor

-Their loss of public esteem-An estimate of this evil—The female performers especially sustain injury-A theatrical life immoral in its tendencies Objections from this quarter-Conclusion. . 21

mers

Books next to society influence the character--Works
Young persons warned against them-The evils of
a corrupted imagination-The number of injurious
novels greater than many imagine-The majority
defective, as they lower the standard of morals, and
seldom exhibit Christian virtues-Aversion to New
Testament morality occasioned in part by this-
Select novel-reading to be cautiously allowed
The evils of an imagination unduly excited-Effe-
minacy of intellect, incapacity for the duties and
pleasures of actual life. They weaken benevolent
sympathies, produce inconstancy in friendship

of imagination most influential-Exercise of the
imagination fascinating—The avidity with which
works of fiction are read proves this-Evils of an
indiscriminate perusal of novels universally admitted
-Difficulty of determining suitable limits--The

importance of this task-Bad novels extremely mis-
<chievous—The writers of them moral assassins

Novels generally give false views of life-Create
- undue attachment to the present state of being,
and divert the mind from the true end of life-In-
stances illustrative of this truth-Some works of fic-
tion may be profitably perused—Imagination, when
properly disciplined, subserves character and hap-
piness, heightens benevolent feeling, strengthens
friendship, gratifies the mind's love of perfection
and novelty-Novels ought not to be read in the
early stages of education—A small portion of time
only should be devoted to them-The character of
the mind should be consulted--Unimaginative per-
sons may read them with advantage-Too stimu-
lating to romantic minds—The author of Waverly
the best novel writer-Defects of his productions
pointed out-Poetry rather than novels should be
read-Cowper recommended.

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